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April 25, 2024

Iowa Attorney General’s Office Concludes Fort Dodge Law Enforcement Acted with Legal Justification in Shooting

DES MOINES—In a report issued today, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office has concluded that the March 16, 2024, fatal shooting of Tyler Stansberry by Fort Dodge Police Department officers was legally justified. Stansberry charged at the officers from a hiding place a few feet away with a knife in each hand before the officers fired in self-defense.

The Attorney General’s conclusion was based on a review and investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. The investigation found that on the morning of March 16, Webster County dispatch received a 911 call from Stansberry’s brother, reporting Stansberry was “freaking out,” assaulting him, and hurting one of the family dogs. Two other dogs and Stansberry’s brother’s girlfriend were also in the house.

Stansberry had a history of aggressive behavior, including assaulting family members, harming animals, and engaging in self-harm. He had an outstanding arrest warrant for a probation violation involving a domestic-abuse case. He would also mix marijuana and alcohol with over-the-counter medications and refuse to take medications as prescribed. Stansberry reportedly suffered from mental health conditions, including autism, schizophrenia, PTSD, Aspergers Syndrome, and social anxiety, and he had two prior involuntary mental health commitments.

Two officers arrived at the scene and spoke with the brother, who attempted to persuade Stansberry to come out of the family basement. The brother found that Stansberry was armed with what appeared to be a knife. The officers then spoke with Stansberry’s mother, who had just arrived at the house. Stansberry’s mother had requested, and received, an order for Stansberry’s involuntary commitment the day prior, due to his dangerous behavior and mental health condition. She also warned the officers that Stansberry had threatened to kill his brother if police came again. Two additional officers then arrived to assist.

Three of the four officers went to the basement, where Stansberry was hiding in a hallway that was blocked by a blanket or curtain. The officers were armed with a taser, 9 mm revolver, and shotgun loaded with a bean bag. They called for Stansberry to come out and sought to settle the situation peacefully. Stansberry suddenly charged at the officers, screaming with arms raised and a steak knife in each hand. Stansberry posed an immediate and deadly threat to the officers’ lives and those of everyone in the surrounding area. All three officers fired. Stansberry fell to the ground, and the officers attempted to restrain him as he continued to resist. Stansberry died from gunshot wounds to his chest after being taken to the hospital by Fort Dodge Fire Department medical personnel, who responded to the officers’ call for assistance.

The report is issued under the Attorney General’s independent authority under Iowa Code section 13.12 to investigate or prosecute conduct of law enforcement that results in death.

A copy of the report is available here.


For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

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